"I agree with Mrs. Sommers,” Mr. Matthews said. “We have to break it to them gently”

“Yes, Nurse,” Officer Maxwell said when they had stepped out into the hall. “What did you want to tell me?”

“The unconscious man, that girl’s father.”


“He was brought here by Doctor Brown. He collapsed in the General Store. There was no identification on him. But while he was battling a high fever, he was mumbling to himself something about helping out with the kidnapping of a child. He said he wants his money and that he hid the girl. Then he said that he hid them all. I thought you should know.”

“I know all about Renard. I had no idea he was in the hospital.”

“His name is Mr. Renard? We wondered who he was.”

“Mrs. Sommers just told me about him on the way to the hospital. It’s a long, sad story. That unconscious man in there runs a small baby farm.”

The nurse clasped her hands together. “No!”

“Unfortunately, it’s the truth. He claims the children are orphans, but they aren’t. The kidnappers bring them to his farm to be hidden away from the outside world. He collects payment, and the children are never heard of again. He mistreats them and forces them to work.”

“How could someone be so cruel?”

“For money.”

“But the people who bring him the children, what do they gain?”

“Ransom money… lots of it. Only they don’t return the children. The children remain hidden on the farm forever, hopeless, uncared for, and abused.”

The nurse clucked her tongue. “Terrible! Those poor children and parents.”

“That sweet little girl with the blond curls,” Officer Maxwell said, “was his latest victim. I’m sure I found the missing children from a kidnapping that occurred close to eight years ago.”

“Where are they?”

Officer Maxwell opened the door a crack. “The teenaged girl and her brother there,” he said. “Idy and Jacob. I’ll never forget those names.”

The nurse’s hands flew to her mouth. “Are you certain?”

“Without a doubt.” He walked into the large room. “Mr. Matthews, Mrs. Sommers, I’d like to speak to you for a moment.”

Idy looked at Fay sitting alone near the window. She didn’t know why, but she felt pity for the girl. “Where’s your ma?” she asked.

Fay tore her gaze from the window. “There’s a real barber shop there,” she pointed to the small shop with the red and white pole. “I never saw one before. I read about one in my reader, but Ma said her razor was just as good.” Fay touched her uneven hair. “I’d like to get a proper haircut someday.”

Idy frowned. Fay was so excited about her surroundings and sudden freedom, she didn’t realize the repercussions yet to come.

“Where’s your ma?” she asked again.

“Ma jumped off the wagon.”

“Jumped off?” Idy asked. “Where?”

“Back in the brush on the way here.”

“Oh no,” Idy whispered. She knew firsthand how treacherous the terrain was. “Did anyone go looking for her?”

Fay shrugged. “Mr. Matthews told the police about her. I think some officers went.”

Although there was no love lost between them, Idy didn’t want Mrs. Renard to freeze to death.

“Idy,” Jacob said, “Why are you talking to the enemy?”

Fay scrunched up her face and stuck her tongue out.

“See what I mean? She won’t ever learn to be nice. She’s just like her ma and pa.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 685)